Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ordinary Life, Elizabeth Berg

This was a quick read. We got our first "snowstorm" here in NH. Well, not really a snowstorm, more like a heavy dusting. Only about 4 inches of fluffy white snow. I made some chicken soup, and sat down with my latest Elizabeth Berg, "Ordinary Life". I got most of the way through it before bed, and finished it this morning with my morning coffee.

I had not "researched" this book before picking it up from the library. (I trust my amazon "recommendations" list waaaaay too much!) When I cracked it open I realized it was a collection of 14 short stories. A pleasant surprise! I enjoyed most of them. Many involved women in marriages that they are questioning, or women dealing with something painful (a departed loved one, an emotionally distant family member). I found almost all of the stories to be very touching.

There were a couple that made me roll my eyes a little bit, though.

First, let me say this - if you are using a magazine quiz, or using a magazine article to give yourself insight into your marriage, you need to take a step back and reevaluate things. Period. I stopped using magazine quizzes to make solid conclusions when I was fifteen. Maybe communication comes easily to my husband and I. He is certainly able to tell me his feelings - maybe this is not as typical as I think.

Oh - and this did not necessarily
bother me - but I'm curious. Are there really that many women who get irritated with their husbands because they want to take a "scenic route" someplace and their husbands do not? Call me manish, but I also prefer the most direct route between points A and B. On certain occasions I am in the mood for the path less traveled (driving up the coast to get to York, ME rather than taking I-95 for example...) and if this need strikes, I either save it for a day when I'm traveling alone - load a new playlist on my iPod, grab an iced coffee and hit the road - or, I suggest it to Dennis - usually starting with "I don't usually ask, but wouldn't it be nice if..." Is this that unusual?

With these two quams aside, I thought this book was great. If you have not read anything by Elizabeth Berg - you must! She has an amazing writing style. Some of these short stories were literally only a few pages, yet the reader somehow feels as though the intimately know the characters. I don't know how she does this. You feel an emotional connection in a short period of time. I have read a couple of novels by Elizabeth Berg before, and I am quickly becoming a huge fan.

I was intrigued by the short story "Martin's Letter to Nan". In this story, Berg is using the husband and wife from her novel "The Pull of the Moon". There was so much raw emotion in the short story, I have now bumped "The Pull of the Moon" towards the top of my list.

Another one of my favorites in "Ordinary Life" was "Regrets Only". A comical story about a woman who gets roped into pretending to be the girlfriend of her gay male friend - a man who she has been harboring romantic feelings for. It was serious - this woman is obviously conflicted - but it was light in many ways as well. Fantastic.

This book was filled with emotion and connection, characters that are very real. It was my perfect solution to the first snowfall of the season.

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